Police tell Malé City Council removal of replanted trees was lawful

Police have informed Malé City Council that no action will be taken against the Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) in relation to the removal of trees planted by the council last week.

A letter given to the council explained that the state-owned company had acted on the orders of the housing ministry, which was the highest authority in the country for environmental matters.

Around 25 areca palm trees – donated by the Indian government in 2011 – were cut down late last month by men alleged to have been off-duty Special Operations police officers, although police have denied this.

Opposition politicians have told local media the trees had been used by the Maldivian Democratic Party – which holds a majority of seats on the council – to curse President Abdulla Yameen.

Subsequent efforts to replace the trees were stopped by the MRDC last week, before the cabinet announced it was to remove control of the city’s streets from the council’s jurisdiction.

Council members have suggested that the government is infringing on services designated to the council under the 2010 Decentralisation Act.